Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth & Ocean Counties this July 2015

Fourth-of-July-FamilyHappy 239th Birthday, America! As we prepare to celebrate our independence this upcoming weekend, there are so many exciting celebrations that you and your family and friends can join in on. Check out the events and activities below that are going on all month long in a town near you.

4th of July Firework Celebrations:

Sunday, July 5: This year, Monmouth Park Racetrack (Oceanport) is throwing the ultimate backyard BBQ – the Red, White & Blue Party, presented by Budweiser. Gather your friends, wear your most patriotic red, white, and blue, and come party Monmouth Park style. There will be tons of food, drink specials, live music courtesy of Rockin’ Thunder 106 and Fun 107.1, games, and so much more. Eating competitions such as whipped cream pie, watermelon, and hot dogs will also take place – plus, a spicy wing eating competition! In addition, Monmouth Park will be celebrating our armed forces and local first responders – many of whom will be on-site celebrating too. So tell all your friends that the biggest summer party is the Red, White & Blue Party – you won’t want to miss it! For more information, call 732-222-5100.

Saturday, July 11: Attention runners: Register today for Belmar’s Annual 5k Run! The race will start at Silver Lake Park at 7:00am where you can run through the beautiful streets of Belmar. You can join as an individual or a team, and there’s even an opportunity for children to join the run as well! For more information, call 732-681-3700.

Wednesday, July 15: Head on down to the sandy shores of Belmar for the 29th Annual New Jersey Sandcastle Contest! The event will be held at Belmar’s 18th Avenue Beach from 8:00 am – 12:00 pm. The competition is free and open to participants of all ages. *Rain date is July 29. For more information, call 732-681-3700 ext. 214.

Saturday, July 18: It’s the Asbury Park Blues & Brews Festival at Bradley Park. Attendees will be able to enjoy music all day long on the Main Stage, plus a biergarten, arts & crafts, food, and of course, access to the beach! This event is free of charge and will be held rain or shine. You won’t want to miss some of the very best jazz and blues music around, which has become an award-winning New Jersey tradition. For more information, call 732-933-1984.

Wednesday, July 22 – Sunday, July 26: Come one, come all to the Monmouth County Fair! The fair will be located at the East Freehold Showgrounds on Kozloski Road in Freehold. Times are as follows: Wednesday-Friday 5-11pm, Saturday 3-11pm, and Sunday, 11am-6pm. Enjoy tons of food, games, and rides as well as the 2015 Home & Garden Competition! For more information, call 732-842-4000.

Thursday, July 30 – Sunday, August 2: Head to the 21st Annual Clam Fest at Huddy Park (Highlands)! This 4-day, action packed event, features the freshest seafood, live entertainment, contests, vendors, crafters, games, rides, and the best part – free entry and parking! For more information, call 732-291-4713.

We hope you’re having a great summer!

“Where has your First Financial Visa Platinum Credit Card taken you?” Photo Contest

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We want to see where your Visa Platinum Credit Card has taken you! Share your photo with a short description of where you used your Visa Platinum Credit Card from now until July 6th, 2015 to any of our social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Please post only one photo to only one of our social media pages – multiple photos do not earn extra entries. Winner will be announced on July 7th, 2015 and will receive a $50 Visa Gift Card and soft cooler filled with travel sized items. If you don’t have a Visa Platinum Credit Card, click here to apply today!

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at 866.750.0100, email us at
info@firstffcu.com, or stop into any First Financial branch!

*To be entered, follow First Financial on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Participants can post a photo on First Financial’s Facebook or Twitter page, or can post a photo on their Instagram and tag @firstfinancialnj using #MyFFVisaTravels. Posted photo should be from a trip that the participant used a First Financial Visa Platinum Credit Card on. Picture could be from a previous vacation within the last two (2) years as long as a First Financial Visa Platinum Credit Card was used during the trip. Enter on or before 7/6/15 at 11:59pm. One (1) photo will be chosen at random on or about 7/7/15 and the winner will be notified by the Marketing Department. Winner must be able to pick up their prize in a First Financial branch. No purchase necessary to enter or claim prize. You must be 18 years or old to enter. One entry per person. See credit union for details.

 

10 Simple Money Saving Tips

bigstock-Saving-money-jarSome of the more frequently talked about personal finance tips can come across as unreasonable, too difficult, too time consuming, or irrelevant. Yet, the search continues across all income brackets for how to comfortably spend less and save more.

Below are 10 simple money saving tips that you may not have thought about – each with some serious financial benefits. Saving money does not have to be a chore, it’s an accumulation of habits and adjusted perspectives, none of which are detrimental to your daily routine.

The goal of these 10 tips is to not overhaul your life, but to make manageable, tiny tweaks that carry a big bang at the end of the year.

1. Use Cash. After setting a budget, take out cash for your entertainment spending pocket. It’ll ensure that you do not spend above the designated amount. Since a coffee here and burger there, really adds up and quickly – making sure that those erroneous expenses are always paid in cash will help you stay on top of that expense area (an area frequently a victim of the swipe and forget plague).

2. Adjust That Thermostat. Turn your heat down ten degrees and the a/c up two degrees. Utility companies have reported that even just a consistent two degree shift can save you money without leaving you miserable. The same principle can apply for pre-setting programmable thermostats to change throughout the day, adjusting for when you are away from home or asleep; with a more drastic change while you are away (10 to 15 degrees for eight hours). Your savings could be as great as 15 percent a year, says Energy.gov.

3. Help Santa Save. Consider early prep for holiday shopping. Either look throughout the year and really benefit from sales, or consider the benefits of buying a gift card monthly and setting it aside for yourself. Come December, with just $25 gift cards each month, you will have set aside $275 specifically for holiday spending.

4. Drink More Water. By replacing just one soda, coffee or beer each day, you not only invest in your health, but you could save some serious change. If you eliminate one $5 coffee just three days a week, that’s an additional $780 dollars at the end of a year’s time. Or, if you have that fancy coffee addiction, consider getting a coffee machine and buy your favorite grounds in bulk. Bulk buying can save money as well.

5. Eat In. Avoid the frequent trap of not wanting to cook and resorting to dragging the whole family out to eat despite your pantries being full. If inspiration is the missing link, try setting a weekly menu for the household, alternate cooking responsibilities or even involve the whole family in meal prep every night. And, instead of letting the “I have to cook or we will end up eating out” mentality get you in trouble, keep a few home cooked meals prepped and frozen for those moments of dinner despair.

6. Shop Smarter For Groceries. Clipping coupons isn’t for everyone. It can be time consuming and require more organization to truly be effective than some people’s attention spans and patience can handle. Shop smarter, even if you don’t use on coupons. Look for sale items and weekly promotional deals. Shop what’s in season for your fresh produce. Try store brands; many canned products and dried products have the same ingredients as name brand products.

7. Find A Penny, Pick It Up. Save loose change. If you were to save an average of fifty cents a day, you would have almost $200 set aside at the end of the year. Keep an old water jug set up so that you can watch it fill up throughout the year.

8. Stop Before You Swipe. Sometimes it’s all about perspective. When looking at a frivolous purchase, consider the cost against your income. If you earn $15 an hour and are holding up a $300 suit, ask yourself if you are willing to work 20 hours with only the suit to show for your labor at the end. The same can be done for smaller purchases as well. Is that 32 ounce, blended chai tea latte with soy worth the first thirty minutes of your workday? This method is not a way to talk yourself out of making purchases, but simply to put the expense in a framework.

9. Keep The Car In Check. Stay on top of regular, necessary car maintenance. Doing so can save a pretty penny in gas costs alone, not to mention the costs you can avoid from a side of the road breakdown or preventable tire blow out.

10. Use Your Phone. Sometimes it’s as simple as knowing what is going in with your finances. Awareness brings control; so go ahead and download a personal finance app. There are plenty available that have been professionally reviewed and approved. Additionally, many of the highest rated are free. Remember though, the key is to not only have the app, but to use it. The icon or widget is only as useful as you make it.

Article source courtesy of Joe Young of NASDAQ.

Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth & Ocean Counties this June 2015

getty_rf_photo_of_family_on_boardwalk_at_beachThe “unofficial” start of summer occurred last week during Memorial Day, and we know everyone is ready to take on the heat and enjoy the great outdoors. This is best time of year to indulge in fun activities and take local day-trips with family and friends. Check out these free or inexpensive activities and events below to start your next adventure…

Thursday, June 4 – Sunday, June 7: It’s the 46th Annual NHRA Toyota SUMMERNATIONALS at Raceway Park (Englishtown)! Enjoy races, food, and fun with the entire family. Tickets start at just $5 – buy yours in advance today. For more information, call 732- 446-7800.

Saturday, June 6: Are you ready for a challenge? Take your chance at the Thompson Park Amazing Funtathlon (Lincroft)! This exciting event offers families the opportunity to compete in a variety of outdoor adventure challenges. Teams composed of two to six members (any combination of adults/children) race against the clock and each other as they traverse the park solving problems and completing challenges. For more information, call 732-842-4000 ext. 4236.

Sunday, June 7: Wear your favorite green attire to the 45th Annual Irish Festival at Monmouth Park (Oceanport)! From noon to 6pm, come celebrate your inner Irish on a day where everyone has a little bit of Ireland in them. Enjoy a beautiful day of live Thoroughbred racing highlighted by Irish step dancing, crafters, food, a pipe and drum competition and the fan-favorite human-horse race. Music from the Emerald Isle will be playing all day from three different stages. So wear green, dust off your finest Irish brogue, and enjoy a great day of fun to celebrate everything Irish. For more information, call 732-222-5100.

Tuesday, June 9: Looking to purchase a new vehicle, and still want to get a great deal and not burn a hole in your wallet? You’ve come to the right place – register for First Financial’s upcoming FREE “How to Walk Out of a Dealership with a New Car AND Your Wallet” seminar at 6pm in Freehold/Howell where you will learn the in’s and out’s of car buying from negotiating price to financing your car. First Financial’s Lending Team will show you the ways to prepare for car shopping, how to avoid allowing your emotions from getting involved in the transaction, and much more. Register today by clicking on the link above or call 866.750.0100.

Friday, June 12 – Sunday, June 14: Does anything scream summer at the Jersey Shore more than fresh seafood? Come celebrate the best the ocean has to offer at the annual three-day New Jersey Seafood Festival in Belmar. Featuring 40+ seafood vendors, beer tent & wine garden, children’s activity tent, and live music. FREE admission and shuttle from the marina and train station will be available. This great event is sponsored by the Belmar Tourism Commission. For more information, 732-681-3700 ext. 214.

Saturday, June 20 – Sunday, June 21: Do you have what it takes to be a Navy Seal? Test your luck at the BattleFrog Obstacle Race – a series obstacles designed by US Navy Seals. These obstacles include ladder walls, cargo nets, monkey bars, paintball, normandy jacks, wall climbs, and SO MUCH MORE! Join alone or with a team today – event will be held at Raceway Park (Englishtown). For more information, call 786-479-6498.

Saturday, June 27 – Sunday, June 28: New Jersey’s finest wineries are back for another weekend of elegant wine tasting at Monmouth Park (Oceanport) for the Win & Wine Weekend and Chocolate Expo! This year, they’re joined by some of the top local chocolatiers for their first-ever chocolate expo. It’s a two-day festival filled with wine and chocolate – can you really afford to miss this?! So gather up your friends and family, sample from dozens of delicious New Jersey wines, and finish it all with the smooth taste of chocolate. Pick up a bottle of wine and picnic for the day or buy a $10 wristband for unlimited sampling. You definitely don’t want to miss the most decadent day of the year! For more information, call 732-222-5100.

The Bradley Beach Chamber of Commerce proudly invites you to the 7th Annual LobsterFest (6th Ave beachfront)! The entire family can enjoy this FREE event along with live music, over 100 craft & specialty vendors, beer & wine garden, great oceanfront location, and children’s activities such as a water slide, rides, face painters and sand art. For more information, call 732-776-2999 or visit their Facebook page.

As always, feel free to leave a comment below and let us know if you attend any of these events and give us your feedback!

Is Your Rewards Credit Card Really Rewarding You?

cards_mastheadConventional financial wisdom for the last 10 years has been that you need a rewards credit card. Obviously, carrying a high revolving balance is bad, but if you pay your debt in full every month, it’s a no-brainer. You put all your expenses on your credit card, pay it off before you’re charged interest, and rack up those airline or other rewards. You cash those in for free flights, first class upgrades, restaurant gift cards, merchandise, and other perks.

There’s another bit of conventional financial wisdom, though: there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Free rewards sound great, but are you really getting everything you’re promised?

It might be time to take another look at your rewards card. Is it still the best bet for your money? If you’re thinking about cutting the card, check out these factors:

  • Is there an annual fee? If you’re paying money every year to use the card but you’re not getting more than that amount in rewards, your credit card is a losing proposition. Check your billing statement for this information – and don’t forget to check the fine print.
  • Is the interest rate extremely high? If you pay the balance in full every month, you might not ever think to check your interest rate. Suppose though, that something unfortunate happened – you or your spouse lost your job, you lost track of the date, or otherwise forgot to pay the bill. You could rack up significant finance charges on even one month’s expenses.
  • Is there a real grace period on interest? You might assume that if you pay your credit card bill before the end of the billing cycle that you wouldn’t get hit with any interest charges. This might have been the case when you first signed up, but the deal may have changed over time. Credit card disclosures are often difficult to read, so check them carefully.

If any of the above are making your rewards card less of a reward and more of a chore or added expense, it might be time to look closer to home for your credit card needs. Here at First Financial we offer a Visa Platinum Credit Card* with no annual fee, no balance transfer fees, a 10 day grace period, and a CURewards program where you can redeem points for gift cards, merchandise items, travel, and so much more! PLUS, we’re currently offering an introductory rate of 2.9% APR for the first 6 months on all purchases and balance transfers.**

Instead of counting on programs for rewards you may never see, put the money you save with our low-cost Visa Platinum Credit Card into a Holiday Club or Summer Savings account. Now that’s a real reward! Don’t forget to read all the important documents carefully, then pick up the phone. Our friendly staff will gladly help you make the switch. Speak to a First Financial representative today by calling 866.750.0100 or stop into any branch location.

*APR varies from 10.90% to 17.90% when you open your account based on your credit worthiness. This APR is for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances and will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. Subject to credit approval. No Annual Fee. Other fees that apply: Cash advance fee of 1% of advance ($5 minimum and $25 maximum), Late Payment Fee of up to $25, Foreign Transaction Fee of 1% plus foreign exchange rate of transaction amount, $5 Card Replacement Fee, and Returned Payment Fee of up to $25. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a VISA Platinum Card and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties.

**The 2.9% promotional rate will apply to purchases and balance transfers only for six statement cycles from the new account holder’s initial balance and/or initial transfer to the First Financial VISA Platinum card. The balance transfer promotional rate does NOT apply to purchases or cash advances.

SOURCES:

You Could Win a $100 Visa Gift Card in Our Financially Savvy Blog Contest!

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We look forward to hearing about how we’ve helped you become financially savvy throughout the years. Good luck!

*To enter, comment or post a video before the deadline and completely answer the question to qualify. Post your comment or video on or before 5/29/15 at 5pm. Must be 18 years or older to enter. The winner will be randomly selected from the entries received and notified by the Marketing Department on or about 6/1/15. Winner will be able to pick up their gift card in a First Financial branch or receive it via mail. No purchase necessary to enter or claim prize.